ATA and ITI test
Thread poster: Linda Li

Linda Li
United States
Local time: 11:58
Member (2013)
English to Chinese
Jan 6, 2016

Hi everyone!

I am thinking of beginning to prepare for either the ATA or ITI test. Which one do you think is better for a US-based translator? Right now I'm leaning towards ITI because I won't need to be "on-site" (I can take it online), which would help me save some travel cost and would be more like a real translation environment. Is this a right decision?

Thank you in advance!


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Joseph Tein  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:58
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
+ ...
ATA Jan 6, 2016

As a translator in the U.S. I've never heard of the ITI until reading this post. All the translators I'm in touch with know about ATA. There are annual ATA conferences throughout the U.S. I would say that for a U.S.-based translator, ATA membership and certification are much more helpful.

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Robin Joensuu  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:58
Member
English to Swedish
How do you prepare for a test? Jan 6, 2016

I have been thinking of doing the same thing but in Sweden, where I would become an "authorized" translator, as it is called here. But how do you prepare? By reading about e.g. economy and law?

[Redigerad 2016-01-06 10:53 GMT]


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:58
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
preparing for the ATA test Jan 6, 2016

The ATA allows you to take a practice test by mail (for a relatively modest fee, I believe $50), before you take the real one (which costs a lot more and has to be taken on site). You receive feedback from the grader for this practice test, but not for the real one.
They also offer webinars on the test (see below), and the recent conference (in Miami) had presentations on this subject.

Note that the "pass" rate is extremely low - about 14% on average across languages. There has been recent discussion about how to improve that. They are also moving slowly toward online testing.

See: http://www.atanet.org/chronicle-online/wp-content/uploads/4308_23_certification_forum_column1.pdf

http://www.atanet.org/chronicle-online/wp-content/uploads/4205_25_certification_forum_column.pdf


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Patrick Porter
United States
Local time: 12:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Test environment vs. real environment Jan 6, 2016

Linda Li wrote:
...I won't need to be "on-site" (I can take it online), which would help me save some travel cost and would be more like a real translation environment....


In my opinion, the ATA exam is a poor test of whether you are a skilled translator, because writing out a translation by hand using paper dictionaries as resources in no way reflects the actual work of a translator in 2016...or even in 2006...and probably not even that much in 1996. So the news that they might be updating is interesting, and it sounds like a great idea to me.

If I were an outsourcer who needed to place an important job I would neither require nor prefer that a translator be ATA certified. It would appear much more valuable to me that the person has an education in linguistics/translation and/or a track record of experience, involvement in the profession, preferably with some kind of expertise/specialization in a limited set of subject areas.

That said, however, the ATA certification is probably still useful, in that it is recognized and it seems to be held in high regard by many. And I guess that it does test some kind of organic language competence / translation ability. But these can be demonstrated in lots of other ways. Certification is certainly not a necessary (or sufficient) requirement for success in the field.

ATA membership, on the other hand, can be very beneficial. Although not currently registered as a member (my workload is quite full), I have been registered in the past and have received client inquiries based solely on my listing in the membership directory. Also, events like theirs are a great environment for networking.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
ITI Jan 6, 2016

I agree with Patrick - ATA is way behind the times when it comes to examinations, though I know reforms are afoot. I used to be a member, but I let my subscription lapse.

I still belong to the ITI, and I find it useful even though I've left the UK and now live in the States. I feel it makes me look like a real translator, and I sometimes get new customers who find me on the membership database.

The exam is challenging, but not excessively difficult. It has a much higher pass rate than the ATA, and if you're a reasonably proficient translator you'll get through.


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Linda Li
United States
Local time: 11:58
Member (2013)
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your advice! Jan 7, 2016

Thank you all for your advice. I'm now thinking of taking the ATA sample test first to give me a general idea about these sorts of tests (ITI does not have a sample test I believe?). If I pass it, I will probably take the ITI test. As Patrick said, I think the setting of the ATA test is a little out of date, so I probably won't consider taking ATA test unless it is changed to an electronic format.

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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I don't think Jan 8, 2016

you really need to bother with a sample test for the ITI. You choose the subject, and they give you the kind of text you're likely to encounter in your everyday life, not too easy, not too difficult. You also have to produce a commentary on why you've made particular translation choices.

Do make sure you fit into one of the many membership categories:

http://www.iti.org.uk/become-a-member/membership-categories/2-uncategorised/373-individual-membership


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Texte Style
Local time: 18:58
French to English
ITI Jan 8, 2016

As a PM, I used to search for translators on ITI regularly, and ATA when US English had been specifically requested.

The translators were all highly competent and professional, with a single exception to prove the rule.

I had to sit a couple of exams in 19th-century conditions to get my Masters in 2011, and I noticed that while it wasn't ideal, the results were the same as when we were allowed to use more up-to-date tools. The conscientious, imaginative translators with a talent for thinking on their feet, and expressing ideas clearly came out top, and those who couldn't be bothered to iron out every last wrinkle or come up with a more natural turn of phrase barely scraped through.

Although not being able to take the test online is a drag, for sure.

[Edited at 2016-01-08 09:42 GMT]


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Gruffydd
United States
Local time: 12:58
Member (2017)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A translation certification does not necessarily prove the value of a real talented translator Dec 27, 2017

Patrick Porter wrote:

In my opinion, the ATA exam is a poor test of whether you are a skilled translator, because writing out a translation by hand using paper dictionaries as resources in no way reflects the actual work of a translator in 2016...or even in 2006...and probably not even that much in 1996. So the news that they might be updating is interesting, and it sounds like a great idea to me.

If I were an outsourcer who needed to place an important job I would neither require nor prefer that a translator be ATA certified. It would appear much more valuable to me that the person has an education in linguistics/translation and/or a track record of experience, involvement in the profession, preferably with some kind of expertise/specialization in a limited set of subject areas.



What counts is an innate linguistic talent AND experience. It's like music, or computer programming.
The talent and delivery of great musicians and great software developers, and, for that matter, translators, don't come as a result of some certification or degree, which are just formalities.

If you are talented (in whatever field) you can tell who is also talented and will never be impressed by some "credentials".

Happy New Year 2018!

[Edited at 2017-12-27 22:40 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
There's nothing innate about it Dec 28, 2017

Gruffydd wrote:

Patrick Porter wrote:

In my opinion, the ATA exam is a poor test of whether you are a skilled translator, because writing out a translation by hand using paper dictionaries as resources in no way reflects the actual work of a translator in 2016...or even in 2006...and probably not even that much in 1996. So the news that they might be updating is interesting, and it sounds like a great idea to me.

If I were an outsourcer who needed to place an important job I would neither require nor prefer that a translator be ATA certified. It would appear much more valuable to me that the person has an education in linguistics/translation and/or a track record of experience, involvement in the profession, preferably with some kind of expertise/specialization in a limited set of subject areas.



What counts is an innate linguistic talent AND experience. It's like music, or computer programming.
The talent and delivery of great musicians and great software developers, and, for that matter, translators, don't come as a result of some certification or degree, which are just formalities.

If you are talented (in whatever field) you can tell who is also talented and will never be impressed by some "credentials".

Happy New Year 2018!

[Edited at 2017-12-27 22:40 GMT]


A talented pianist still has to practice daily for long hours to be talented and remain so. He may have a predisposition to appreciate, read, interpret and/or compose music, but there's nothing innate about it.

Same thing with translators, doctors, architects, coders, engineers and computer programmers, to mention just a few.

As for credentials, they have a legitimate use. Just because one certification method is defective or behind the times doesn't mean we should do away with certifications. By extending that logic, we would have to get rid of grading too in primary and secondary school. A certification is a type of grading system that aims to be objective and useful as one yardstick by which a professional's minimal performance can be measured by nonprofessionals (clients).


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